South Africa To Determine Safety of GMOs

Published online: Oct 19, 2004
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South African's Agricultural Research Council began a four-year project to confirm the safety of potatoes genetically modified to be insect resistant.

The GM potatoes that contain two genes from soil bacteria--cry1Ial, help the control of potato tuber-moth larvae that feed on the plants and nptII that allows the plants to grow in the presence of an antibotic.

The Council's Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute has established that GM insect-resistant technology works to control potato tuber moth, the major pest of potatoes in South Africa.

It said growers would be able to control tuber moth more effectively with the technology and thus reduce the use of insecticides.

The four-year research project is to develop the technology in a way that is appropriate for small-scale growers. It is aimed at safe and responsible development in rural communities.

The project will investigate whether the Bt potatoes are safe for food and feed use and what their environmental impact will be.

The ARC plans to conduct field trials at six sites. The insect-resistant potato technology was developed initially at Michigan State University for subsistence growers in Egypt, where it performed effectively.